Las Vegas: Sashimi in the desert

A mere week back into the day job and I found myself flying out to Las Vegas for the annual gathering of nerds and nerd-baiters, otherwise known as colossal electronics show CES. And aside from navigating a winding course around guest rappers, Justin Bieber and Korean popstars as they flogged their electronic wares, we got to spend a little time chowing our way around the adult Disneyland.

The biggest surprise about Las Vegas food is that it wasn’t completely awful – besides the plate of spaghetti and meatballs on my first day that I’m pretty sure outweighed me (even at the end of the trip). Let us begin with the buffet. Because I love a buffet:

Yes, that's dessert. Just walk through the booby traps, round the sarcophagus and left at the canopic jars.

Breakfast every day was at Luxor – that’s the one that looks like a pyramid. On consideration, it’s perhaps a tad bizarre to eat, sleep and gamble inside a mock-tomb. Slot machines in the catacombs, anyone? Anyway, in the case of the buffet, everything you’ve heard is true – which could probably said of most of Las Vegas anyway. It’s greasy, it’s heat-lamped and it’s epic. If you fancy eggs benedict with tabbouleh on the side with some apple crepes, then this is the place for you:

Nondescript eggs and grease. Yum.

Buffets designed to keep you gambling your kids’ college funds away aside, the surprising thing about Vegas was the amount of good food there way to be had. Dinner at Mix at the top of THEhotel was a nicely-played steak and a fresh and tasty tuna tartare – although with a sickly-sweet wine to start things off. To be honest, the memorable part of eating at Mix was an above-average view from the throne:

Hoping that it's one-way glass

Elsewhere, there was a bit of weird faffing about with sushi at RM Seafood (Mandalay Bay). For me, sushi is about being able to taste fishy perfection in a simple and skillful way – less so the amount of dressing-up that the ‘Ringo Roll’ constitutes:

spicy tuna, apple, jalapenos, tuna, kona kanpachi, spicy garlic ponzu, kabayaki sauce

Bit much? Not really helped by the fact that it all arrived a little warm – you could taste the quality of the fish in the simple nigiri that we ordered and the Hawaiian poke at the start, so it seemed a shame for it to be drowned out by so much window-dressing.

Last meal (aside from the final hit of beige food at the airport Burger King) was Lavo, the latest from the people that bought you Tao, a joint so known because they pay Kim Kardashian a lot of money to hang out there. And the fact that I said that is positive that that money was a good investment. A beautifully designed restaurant, with some great cocktails but a few issues with service and some things that could be ironed out with the food – early days as yet though.

So that was Vegas – five days of grease and greed, with no natural light to be found. I’m off now to nurse my rickets.

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